Don’t know if it’s due to the change of weather going into autumn, I’ve had a bit of cough and sore throat recently. Then I remembered, I have a jar of salty kumquat lying around at home.
最近踏入秋季，開始有兩聲咳嗽和喉嚨乾燥。突然想起家裏有一瓶2005製的咸金桔。當年在香港工作，而金桔是來自相片中那兩盤過年擺設的桔。 記得那年是第一次醃製咸金桔，正確方法也不懂。只是兒時見嬤嬤把金桔曬乾後加入鹽巴。 原來最好是一層鹽巴一層金桔，但當時嬤嬤已不在，我又不懂， 把所有金桔一次過放進玻璃瓶裡，然後倒入鹽巴直至滿為止。 那年一共醃製了三大瓶，另外兩瓶送給家人。聽說咸金桔醃製時間越長，功效越好。我那一瓶十多年來從香港跟我回到英國，又從英國帶到台灣。直到幾年前才捨得開始飲用。每次喝，都會想起嬤嬤。瓶裡剩下沒多顆，要好好珍惜。
WHAT IS KUMQUAT
Kumquat are a type of citrus fruit like these two plants below. In fact my jar of kumquat came from these two plants. You’ve probably noticed from the label on the jar and the photo below, this dates back to 2005. That was when I was working in Hong Kong, and this is the rooftop of my flat.
During Chinese New Year it is customary to buy a kamquat plant. It’s bit like getting a Christmas tree only we don’t decorate it with tinsel and fairy lights. Why a kamquat plant you ask? Well, quat sounds the same as lucky, so with Chinese being an auspicious bunch, they are the perfect decorative plant for the new year.
MAKING SALTY KUMQUAT
After the new year has ended, people often pick the fruit and preserve them in salt. They are good to ease sore throat. That’s why I thought of my 13 year old friend recently whom I’ve been hiding inside my cupboard. Making salty kumquat is very easy. In fact I learnt it off my grandma when I was a kid. When you pick them off the plant, try not to break them. They should be dried out under the sun so the water content can evaporate a bit. They won’t dry out completely like sun dried tomatoes. I dried mine for about a month and then started to bottle them.
This was the first time I had made salty kumquat and wasn’t quite sure what to do as I grandma was no longer with us. I put them all in the big jar and then added a lot of salt on top till the jar was full to the top. Apparently you should layer the kumquat and salt for the best results. Anyway, I ended up with three big jars of these salty kumquat and gifted the other two to my sister in laws. My jar remained sealed for probably 10 years by which time it had flattened to about half its original volume. Over the years, it’s followed me from Hong Kong back to UK and then from UK to Taiwan. That’s why it’s got bits of sticky tape at the top of the jar. I had to make sure it was sealed properly when it was travelling around the world.
CONSUMING SALTY KUMQUAT
You don’t normally have the salty kumquat straight (at least I dont’ know anyone who has) as it will be too salty and sour. Salty kumquat is like wine, they mature with age and the flavour becomes very intense over the years. I can actually smell them as soon as I open the lid. The aroma of intense acid citrus bursting out from the jar, not vinegary acid but fragrant fruit acid if you know what I mean.
You always add water to the salty kumquat and make it into a drink. I like mine strong for maximum impact, a bit like an espresso. Normally I add about 1/3 glass of hot water, and then mash up the salty kumquat. The first couple of sips are very intense, and I can feel it cleansing my throat instantly. Then I normally top it up with a bit more hot water and drink the rest slowly. I think the best bits are the peel and flesh when it’s been mashed up so I normally eat that as well. All that’s left are the pips. Everytime I take a kumquat out from the jar, it reminds me of my grandma. There aren’t many left now, need to cherish them well.